There is a board game for every occasion. Regardless of the number of players, there is no reason not to completely customize your experience because there is so much out there. It is hard to rank a definitive list, but we did our best. The best 3 player board game is one that is typically one that has a harmonious triangle of power and game flow.
That means that by having 3, everyone has to keep everyone in check. Many board game mechanics do not kick in until you have more than 2 players, and when you start going to 4, games start to get long. 3 player board games are in a great sweet spot. We took many different things into account to create this guide. This is our list of the 20 best 3 player board games.
20 BEST 1 PLAYER BOARD GAMES
20 BEST 2 PLAYER BOARD GAMES
20 BEST 4 PLAYER BOARD GAMES
20 BEST 5 PLAYER BOARD GAMES
20 BEST 6 PLAYER BOARD GAMES
20 BEST 7 PLAYER BOARD GAMES
#20 | Spirit Island
Spirit Island takes the bottom spot on our list because not only is it a fantastic game but its replayability is through the roof. The game’s balance and changes make for an experience you will want to play over and over again. It is not too intimidating or long, but it feels deep and incredibly rich.
You are a spirit of the land with your own unique elemental powers. Every turn, players simultaneously choose which of their power cards to play, paying energy to do so. Combos and weighing fast versus slow initiative are big here. In the Spirit phase, spirits gain energy, and choose how / whether to Grow: to reclaim used power cards, to seek for new power, or to spread presence into new areas of the island. For 1 – 4 players, games last 90 – 120 minutes.
FOR MORE: Games Like Spirit Island | Buy Spirit Island
#19 | Horrified
Horrified is an adventure game that centers around the classic Universal monsters like Frankenstein, the Mummy and the Wolfman. It is always refreshing to see a game based on IP that is actually fun and satisfying and this game is that.
In this game, you’ll come face to face with all these different monsters as you work with others to rid the town of the maniacal or misunderstood creatures…before it’s too late. This is a point to point movement game so you roll the dice and try to get to spots that are going to help you achieve your goal. Everyone has a different path to victory with things very cleverly working together.
This is a really good option for 3 players if you are looking for a lightweight co-op game that has a great a story. Even though Horrified is a relatively new game with its 2019 release, it is solid and has quickly gained strong support.
FOR MORE: Games Like Horrified | Buy Horrified
#18 | Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
Through the Ages is a civilization-building game that hustles and bustles through drafting and auction-style bidding mechanics. Technologies, wonders, and leaders come into play and become easier to draft the longer they are there. When to strategically get what when is everything.
You attempt to build the best civilization through careful resource management, discovering new technologies, electing the right leaders, building wonders and maintaining a strong military. Weakness in any area can be exploited by your opponents. The game takes place throughout the ages beginning in the age of antiquity and ending in the modern age.
This is a great game on the list of the best 3 player board games because the bidding system works great for that player count and no game does the auction building system better than Through the Ages. The original came out in 2006 with a followup coming a decade later in 2015.
FOR MORE: Buy Through The Ages
#17 | Dominion
Dominion is the game that invented the deck building genre back in 2008. It has remained relevant because it has continued to pump out great expansions at about one per year since it came out. There are several.
It is medieval times and you are tapping on all the different resources of the kingdom to gain resources and glory points. Just like in any deck builder, you start with almost nothing and acquire new cards to add to your deck to hopefully draw and play in the future. The beauty of Dominion is there are only ever ten cards to pull from and those are different every single game. You have to completely pivot your strategy every time.
Dominion is a great game for 3 players very precisely because of the different configurations. Games can be quick and it is all about who can figure out how to get it right. There is only a touch of player interaction and the perfect fun level for all of it seems to be at 3 people. 4 is too powerful.
FOR MORE: Dominion Page | How To Play Dominion | Dominion Review | Games Like Dominion | Buy Dominion
#16 | Agricola
If you are at all into farms and/or farm animals, stop what you are doing right now and check out Agricola. The game is a worker placement game about expanding your stables and breeding animals like pigs and horses.
Each player has their own farm card and three workers. Taking turns, you and everyone else takes a mixture of resources to build, things to build and animals to put in completed pens. Once you have animals, they start to breed as long as you have space. You get points by having the four different animals and lots of them.
Agricola is a great board game for the list of the best 3 player board games because as we will say over and over again, the worker placement component is a great thing with 3 players. There are plenty of different games out there, but this one is special and deserves your attention if you are at all into the theme.
FOR MORE: Games Like Agricola | Buy Agricola
#15 | Splendor
Splendor is one of those titles everyone hears and talks about because its simple and unique gameplay has put it on the top of so many games list. Splendor is about as lightweight as engine builder as you can get with such robust and satisfying action.
You are a gem trader in the Renaissance trying to make a name for yourself. You start with almost nothing and you need to build up by buying equipment, transportation and all sorts things that are going to produce more resources that build you up. Each turn you get to either take gems or spend them. The options are simple but how you choose has big effects.
This game is honestly great at 2, 3 or 4 players, it is just an amazing game and the perfect title to put in this spot on the list of the best 3 player games. If you have a group of 3, this is a fantastic option.
FOR MORE: Splendor Page | How To Play Splendor | Splendor Review | Games Like Splendor | Buy Splendor
#14 | Gaia Project
Gaia Project is a board game about territory control and space exploration. This is a newer game on this list of the best 3 player board games and has already been praised for its tremendous gameplay. It is not necessarily unique, just really well done.
Fourteen different factions live on seven different kinds of planets, and each faction is bound to their own home planets, so to develop and grow, they must terraform neighboring planets into their home environments in competition with the other groups. In addition, Gaia planets can be used by all factions for colonization, and Transdimensional planets can be changed into Gaia planets.
Gaia project is a great game on the list of the best 3 player board games because it just plays really well at that pace. This is an epic space game that has been constructed really well. It brings together some great strategic mechanics to make for a wonderful package.
FOR MORE: Buy Gaia Project
#13 | Stone Age
Stone Age is loved by all to the point that it is used often as a gateway game. If you are unfamiliar, that is a board game you show to a non board gamers in order to get them to like board games. This is a light but intense worker placement game.
Players live in this time as historically accurate as possible. You collect wood, break stone and wash your gold from the river. Important tasks include trading freely, expanding your village and achieve new levels of civilization. With a balance of luck and planning, you compete for food in this pre-historic time.
Stone Age is a great 3 player board game because it is one of the best worker placement games out there, and worker placement is perfect for this number of players.
FOR MORE: Games Like Stone Age | Buy Stone Age
#12 | Gloomhaven
Gloomhaven is one of the hottest games to come out in the last few decades and it is all for good reason. There has been no dungeon crawler until this 2016 release that was so deep with content and hours of gameplay.
This fantasy exploration game of tactical combat in a persistent and shifting world has you taking the role of a wandering adventurer. With your unique special set of skills and motivations, you travel to this dark corner of the world and work with other players to clear out menacing dungeons and forgotten ruins. This is campaign-style so everything makes your character grow in skill, making you more equipped to take on the continued danger.
This award-winning game fills a very specific need. If you are a group of 3 players, and you want an ongoing campaign to play together, then Gloomhaven is the game for sure. It is expensive but the hours you will get out of it make it worth it.
FOR MORE: Games Like Gloomhaven | Buy Gloomhaven
#11 | Scythe
Scythe is an engine-building game set in an alternate-history 1920s period. It is a time of farming and war, rusted gears, innovation and valor. This is part of the hit factory string that is Stonemaier Games, a publisher known for deep and well put together strategy games.
In Scythe, each player represents a character from one of five factions of Eastern Europe who are attempting to earn their fortune and claim their faction’s stake in the land around the mysterious Factory. Players conquer territory, enlist new recruits, reap resources, gain villagers, build structures, and activate crazy mech war machines.
This is just one of those top tier games that has it all and makes all the lists. The game is better with 4, but it is so good that it still makes the list of the best 3 player board games.
FOR MORE: Games Like Scythe | Buy Scythe
#10 | Blood Rage
Smack dab in the middle of the list of the best 3 player board games is miniatures fighting game all about area control. This 2015 game has quickly risen to be one of the top games of that genre.
Each player controls their own Viking clan’s warriors, leader, and ship. Ragnarök has come, and it’s the end of the world! It’s your last chance to fight an epic battle and secure your place in Valhalla at Odin’s side! You have many pathways to glory, you can invade and pillage the land for its rewards, crush your opponents in epic battles, fulfill quests, increase your clan’s stats, or even die gloriously.
This is a great game for the list of the best 3 player board games. The board layout and actions you can take lend themselves best because the few territories would get crowded with more. This game can be played with 2 – 4 but you should really stick to having a group of more than 2 people for maximum fun.
FOR MORE: Buy Blood Rage
#09 | Ticket To Ride
Ticket to Ride is an accessible game that is for players of all ages, at all levels of intensity. The game is one of those take one action a turn from a small list that has big contributions to the game. Simple but complex with many roads to victory.
You are running a train operation. In front of you is a map with many cities that are connected by many different route options. You are given 2 or 3 secret route cards. It is your job to connect those routes by collecting colored train cards and using them to construct. You get points for completing those as well as building the biggest and best routes.
This game is playable with 2 – 5 players and is very fun regardless, but 3 plays great. It gives you plenty of room to space out and go for the most ambitious routes. You end up with less plays with more people which makes you not get going as much.
FOR MORE: How To Play Ticket To Ride | Ticket To Ride Review | Games Like Ticket To Ride | Buy Ticket To Ride
#08 | Pandemic
Pandemic is one of the few cooperative games on this list of the best 3 player games. Fighting as a team of crack specialists, you are on a race against the clock to eradicate a virus. Some say that this is the best co-op board game out there.
In this catastrophe game, each player gets a special power and role on a team. Maybe you are the scientist who can build a research center or mabye you are the pilot traveling around the world, everyone plays a roll. The game board is the world with many interconnected cities as spaces. Each turn the virus spreads to new nodes and you have to do different actions to contain them. If it gets too out of control, you loose.
This is a great game regardless of player count. As a 3 player group, if you are looking for a great option that has you all working together, Pandemic is worth a play.
FOR MORE: Games Like Pandemic | Buy Pandemic
#07 | Castles of Mad King Ludwig
Castles of Mad King Ludwig is an award-winning strategy game and easy choice for the list of the best 3 player board games. This game is a great mix of drafting and tile laying with all sorts of options to get the most points.
The king is crazy and he wants you to be one of the many that spend up the treasury building him large and elaborate castles. In Castles of Mad King Ludwig, you are working against other players to draft the best rooms to put in your castle. There are all sorts of bonuses for set collection and different strategic combos. COMKL has a unique drafting system that lets the nonlead player pick the order, and when people benefit goes in cycles.
This is a great game on the list of the best 3 player board games because of the relationship the master builder has against two other people. So many board games out there are great but they are similar to others. COMKL has a very unique system and it just happens to work perfectly with three. It is an industrial triangle of commerce.
FOR MORE: Buy Castles of Mad King Ludwig
#06 | Puerto Rico
This next game on the list of the best 3 player board games has been around fof nearly 20 years and is still going strong. Puerto Rico is an intense engine builder meets intense worker placement game for groups of people. You can’t even play with two people.
In Puerto Rico you are a colonial governor on the island of the same name. The aim of the game is to amass victory points by shipping goods to Europe or by constructing buildings. You get your own player board with spaces for city buildings, plantations, and resources. Shared between everyone are three ships, a trading house, and a supply of resources and doubloons.
This game is a great title for the list of the best 3 player board games because it is a masterful harmony of two genres that work great for this number of players, worker placement and engine builder. It gives the perfect amount of flow and strain on communal options to keep things interesting.
FOR MORE: Games Like Puerto Rico | Buy Puerto Rico
#05 | Merchant of Venus
Starting to get to the lower spots on the list of the best 3 player board games we see another quality engine builder. Merchant of Venus is a dice rolling point-to-point movement exploration game with all sorts of stuff to get into.
You are a space trader who moves your ship through star systems discovering new alien worlds to trade with. You make money delivering commodities in a unique supply-and-demand system which lets you purchase better ships and equipment, as well as, construct personal spaceports and factories.
This game can be played with 1 – 4 players but it is widely agreed that 3 player games run the best. You need at least 3 and 4 makes the game drag a touch too much. If you want a movement game that also has the bang of empire building, this one is for you.
FOR MORE: Buy Merchant of Venus
#04 | Wingspan
Wingspan is the medium intensity engine builder you have been looking for your whole life. The player count really doesn’t have anything to do with it, Wingspan is an amazing game and playing as a 3 player board game is just its sweet spot.
In this one-hour strategy game with the unlikely theme of bird sanctuary, you take a limited amount of actions to grow and discover the hundreds of available birds. Each turn you have only three things you choose – gain food, lay eggs or draw bird cards. With just these minimal options you want to build up the biggest and best fleet of exotic birds.
This game is going to be great for your 3 player board game session because it is a great mix of so many different things. Engine building is arguably one the most key components of a strategy game and Wingspan has it. You have so much control with multiple paths to victory and a simple panel of choices that all make huge contributions to your overall situation. This is just a well put together game.
FOR MORE: How To Play Wingspan | Wingspan Review | Games Like Wingspan | Buy Wingspan
#03 | Settlers of Catan
Settlers of Catan helped usher in the modern board game 20 years ago. It is a classic and for good reason. This euro-strategy resource management game is one of the best games ever created. The base game can be played with 3 or 4 players, but four can get crowded. This game with 3 players is phenomenal.
In Settlers of Catan you find yourself on an island with five resources (sheep, grain, wood, ore, silver) and you need to use them to build up your civilization. The game has a revolutionary hexagon board. You start with two lone settlements that you place at the corner of three different resource tiles with numbers 2 – 12 on them. Everyone rolls dice at the beginning of the turn and if they roll a number you are on you get that resource. You then use those to buy more city stuff to get even more resources.
This game is high up on the list of the best 3 player board games because of how accessible it is. Everyone from the light to hardcore gamer loves this game. It is also a top gateway game, which is the game you show to non board gamers to get them in. This is all for a reason. If you have 3 players and are looking for the right game for most occasions, look no further than Catan.
FOR MORE: Settlers of Catan Page | How To Play Settlers of Catan | Settlers of Catan Review | Games Like Settlers of Catan | Buy Settlers of Catan
#02 | Lords of Waterdeep
This runner up on the list of the best 3 player board games goes to an epic worker placement combat game with the Dungeons & Dragons brand. Lords of Waterdeep is an intense fantasy adventure that will transport you.
In Lords of Waterdeep, you are one of the secret rulers of the city. This bustling metropolis gives you many opportunities to recruit adventurers to go on quests on your behalf, earning rewards and increasing your influence over the city. Expand the city by purchasing new buildings that open up new actions on the board, and hurt the opposing Lords of Waterdeep.
You can really see on this list that worker placement games lend themselves incredibly well to 3 player games. The idea of a triangle means that power can never be weighted in any one particular spot. Whenever one person is up, the other two will bring them down. And when you have too many players it dilutes your action options to the point where strategies get flimsy. 3 players is a sweet spot.
FOR MORE: Games Like Lords of Waterdeep | Buy Lords of Waterdeep
#01 | Terraforming Mars
Terraforming Mars is one of the greatest games ever released and people tend to say that it plays at its absolute best with three. It was an easy choice for the top spot on the list of the best 3 player board games.
In this space exploration engine builder, you are a corporation and you are working with all the other corporations to make Mars Inhabitable. You of coarse want to be the best and most successful corporation by the end to claim ultimate victory. This is done by conducting many possible actions that are going to beef up your six resources that all do wonderful, glorious things.
This is a great 3 player game because there are just enough communal awards and advantages to fight over to make things cutthroat. With the 3 player count games are quicker and your turn comes around quick enough to keep you interested. This game can be played with 1 – 5 people and all counts are pretty great, but certainly give 3 players a shot.